Navigation Links
Engineer: Computer learning, electrical stimulation offer hope for paralyzed
Date:3/18/2009

GAINESVILLE, Fla. Trainers have used it for decades to help athletes build muscle. Late-night TV commercials hawk it as an effortless flab buster.

But a University of Florida engineering researcher says electrical stimulation a simple, decades-old technique to prompt muscles to contract can be combined with sophisticated computer learning technology to help people regain more precise, more life-like control of paralyzed limbs.

Although his research is still exploring the fundamentals, his progress so far suggests computer-adapted electrical stimulation could one day help the estimated 700,000 Americans who suffer from strokes and the 11,000 who suffer from cord injuries annually.

"It's an adaptive scheme to do electrical stimulation more efficiently, with less fatigue and more accuracy," said Warren Dixon, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, explaining that existing techniques do little more than apply a set current to a designated muscle.

Stroke victims may be among the first to benefit. Dixon said stroke sufferers who work at regaining the ability to walk often unconsciously drag their toes, causing them to stumble. He said his goal is to develop techniques for a wearable, pacemaker-sized device. The device would deliver just the right stimulation to the calf at just the right moment in a person's gait, lifting the toe just enough to avoid a stumble and walk naturally.

The device would adapt to individuals, adjusting itself to weight, activity and diet, he said. It might even act as a kind of robotic therapist to the patient, guiding him or her in the proper action while very slowly backing off its own electrical input.

Dixon, who has published several papers on his research since receiving a prestigious National Science Foundation Faculty Early Development Career Development Program award in 2006, recently authored a paper accepted in the IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering. Publication is anticipated for this summer.

At its most basic level, electrical stimulation is a simple and well-understood process.

Electrical pads are placed on the skin, and when a small current is applied, the muscle contracts involuntarily.

Trainers have long used the technique, which may cause a slight tingling sensation but is not painful, to build or tone athletes' muscles. Electrical stimulation is also at the heart of products touted, for example, to help people build "six-pack abs" without working out.

But the most promising application may be in physical rehabilitation, Dixon said. Specialists already use electrical stimulation to prevent unused muscle from atrophying in effect, "exercising" the muscle even though the patient has lost the ability to move it herself.

Physical therapists and some products also use electrical stimulation for purposeful movement. One commercially available walker, for example, taps preprogrammed stimulation patterns to help paralyzed people stand for brief periods of time.

Dixon said that while the current state-of-the-art shows the potential, it only applies a predetermined and relatively high voltage to a designated muscle.

That means that while the muscle may move, it can easily fatigue, becoming less responsive and sore. Also, electrically stimulated movements tend to be rough, without the degree of control and variation the subtle bends or twists that make all the difference in so much common movement that people with functioning limbs take for granted.

Dixon and his graduate students are developing methods aimed at improving that model using techniques of "adaptive learning," or giving a computer the ability to learn from a patient's actions and reactions and adjust its muscular stimulation accordingly.

One of their main tools: a standard leg lift, or leg extension, exercise machine modified with electrical pads and sensors, and networked with a computer. The system measures and compares electrical stimulation and subsequent leg movement and direction the "patient" is actually a healthy graduate student to steadily determine pathways to become more sensitive and responsive to the user.

"We start with a desired trajectory, we do the leg extension, encode that in a computer and measure the motion," Dixon said. "Then we develop control methods to intelligently stimulate the muscle to make it behave the way it should."


'/>"/>

Contact: Warren Dixon
wdixon@ufl.edu
352-846-1463
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Computers help chemists fight emerging infections
2. Computer-Related Eye Strain Not Just for Adults
3. Computer models help raise the bar for sporting achievement
4. Computerized Jump Rope Raises Funds for Breast Cancer Research
5. Revision: Ziehm Imaging and BrainLAB Announce Partnership for Intra-Operative 3D Imaging and Computer Assisted Surgery (CAS)
6. Computerized training of working memory is a promising therapeutic strategy in ADHD
7. Computer simulator allows visually-impaired to drive
8. PulseLearning (Founded in Childs Bedroom in an Irish Suburban Semi Eight Years Ago and Initially Run on a Second-Hand Computer) Today Named Fastest Growing IT Company in Ireland
9. U.S. Army Selects Cogon Systems to Develop Advanced Clinical Decision Support Tools for Hand Held Computers
10. Computer-based Brain Training Addresses Many Ills
11. New Computerized Scans Effective for Spotting Clogged Arteries
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/27/2017)... Oregon (PRWEB) , ... March 27, 2017 , ... ... is pleased to announce the launch of a months-long rebranding effort. This includes ... formulations. , “Through focus group discussions and market research, we learned that a ...
(Date:3/27/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... March 27, 2017 , ... The homeowner ... the number of homeowners utilizing DIY and unlicensed contractors for renovations is also on ... or replacement project in 2015, and of those, 42% failed to use a licensed ...
(Date:3/25/2017)... ... ... Norland at Swissray is pleased to announce the release of the ELITE DXA, a ... an active scan window, which is more than double that of existing bone densitometers. ... not undergo an accurate total body bone density or body composition study. The ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... , ... March 24, 2017 , ... ... third world countries to hospitals in the United States, it’s a threat that ... the current obstacles facing infection prevention and offers strategies for the healthcare community ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... ... March 24, 2017 , ... Texas Physical Therapy Specialists (TexPTS) ... at 9618 Huebner Road. The clinic is the group’s 7th location in San Antonio ... Ali Higgins, PT, will provide care from the clinic, which opened March 22, 2017. ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:3/24/2017)... , Mar. 24, 2017 Research and ... in the U.S.: Consumer Strategies" report to their offering. ... ... adults approach and treat their physical pain, emphasizing consumer survey ... groups: pain sufferers and adults who have selected illnesses/conditions strongly ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... FinancialBuzz.com News Commentary   ... Medical cannabis products around the world are projected to ... global medical cannabis market will reach a value of USD 55.8 billion ... for the new growing industry. By the end of 2016, 28 states ... medical cannabis. More conservative states like Arkansas and ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... , March 24, 2017 Today ... Equipment stocks, which are: Neovasc Inc. (NASDAQ: NVCN), Hologic Inc. ... Inc. (NASDAQ: SSH ). These companies are part ... prior gains on Thursday, March 23 rd , 2017, with ... while shares of health care companies in the S&P 500 ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: